Thursday, April 9, 2015

Hero Forge Custom Miniature Review

Hero Forge Custom Miniature, found here: , is a company that allows you to create a miniature based on a series of selections and have said miniature mailed to you. The scale is approximately 30mm.

The fun part about the website, is that it allows you to customize your character. You can select from a variety of different parts of the character including head, hair, eyes, teeth, body type, clothes, weapons, accessories, and more. This allows for a high level of uniqueness.

There are limitations though. For example, the last time I played with the site, I could not create a character with a sword pointing down to the ground. In this picture, taken from the blog Minismith's Minis for Ebay,, an old Ral Partha miniature, something like Wizard with Runesword, the figure is pretty much exactly what I would like to make but in a more modern scale. Not possible.

As far as I can tell, you cannot have a character that wields a weapon with two hands either. This leads to some odd poses with characters that are yielding say, greatswords.

The current races are also 'mainstream' in that you have the following: human, elf, half elf, dwarf, gnome, halfling, half orc. The good news is that they also have the following: elemental (gensai), half-demon (tielfling/cambion), and robot (warforged). Sadly, no half dragons or half giants. You can cheat on the later thought as you can control the size of the character to a certain extent.

One aspect that is far ahead of most others, is that while fantasy may be the most popular, it does include settings for the following genres: fantasy, western, sci-fi, modern, east Asian. This allows you to cover a wide swath of characters that outside of boutique companies, are rarely covered.

My friend ordered several of these. Some of them directly for character's he's playing in a Dungeons and Dragons 5th edition campaign and others because he thought the ability to mod your figure awesome.

The miniatures were well packed and arrived sound and secure in a box with bubble wrap. Each figure was individual wrapped and no figures suffered damage in the transit.

In terms of the size compared to other companies?

In the first, we have a dwarf from Stonehaven miniatures next to an  elf from Hero Forge.

In the second, we have a crouching human next to a miniature from Wyrd, an old metal Guild Captain.

Here are my observations from painting several of them:

1. Size is fairly close to standard in the industry. As much as there is a standard.

2. Detail is soft. I'd say somewhere around a fair Mage Knight or other prepainted miniature. The more control you have over your brush, the more you'll be able to bring out those details. Some of that detail is so soft though, that you will not be doing things like drybrushing unless you have fantastic control. The same is true for washes. Without deep recesses, the wash has nowhere to go. Note this varies depending on the model. In the below, the tabards don't necessarily have a lot of detail. The cloaks have enough to make it easier with washes, layering or drybrushing.

3. Printing Artifacts: If you were to hold one of the figures and look at it under a strong light, you would see the remanents of how the pieces are created. This looks like waved texture. It's so slight though that it does not show up when brushed. Some may want to file it but that seems a bit extreme.

4. Fragile to a point. I have several miniatures from Gale Force 9 for their Dungeons and Dragons line. Perhaps due to how the dynamic poses are set, I've broken a few of them. I dropped a knight from my friend's order and snapped the blade right off. The good news is that it was a clean break and easy to repair with super glue. Now mind you, that would probably happen with metal as well. Handle with the same care you do resin figures and you should be okay.

5. Paint Adhesion: I tended to use two spray coats of Army Painter. I started with black and then over the knights, plate mail. On the wizard and warrior, I did a zenith primer of white over the black.  Despite that, there were several spots on the miniature that did not take paint easily. Note this was after I washed them in warm soapy water and used a toothbrush to scrub them.

The initial offering is strong. The biggest hurdle for casual users like myself, is price. At $25 a figure, these miniatures are directly competing with top tier brands on a per figure. On something inexpensive like Bones or a set of plastic? If you have a specific figure you want created, such as my friend did with a duelist with two rapiers and a crown, the price is worth it.

Is you just want something to paint? There are a lot of options at that price point.

As Hero Forge expands it's utility, not even necessarily in terms of detail, but in terms of variety, the value will increase. For example, if there comes a point where you can select from twenty different historical styled helmets or different types of clothing representing specific eras, people will pay more for that.

As more options in the positioning of the figures is increased, people may find something that gives them a better match. The ability to have a miniature using a two-handed axe in two hands for example.

The more specific your character need, the more specific the miniature you want, the stronger the appeal of Hero Forge.

Keep an eye out on them. It won't be long before I suspect Hero Forge will make it's money selling you the CAD's for printing at home.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

How To Paint Citadel Miniatures

I'm a sucker for painting guides. I figure at the very least, I will have some nice photographs that I can use as inspiration for my own painting, or in the case of miniatures I'm painting just to fill out hordes, a paint by numbers guide so to speak.

Games Workshop, perhaps the largest hobby entity for fantasy and science fiction wargaming, often gets berated for a variety of reasons.

One of those reasons should not be making things too difficult to enter the hobby.

Now too expensive on the other hand...

The How To Pain Citadel Miniatures is a spiral bound book with the ability toe sit the book directly standing so that you can keep the book open directly while painting. This is an innovation that no other painting book has.

The book is loaded with numerous photographs of the different ranges that Games Workshop is known for: Warhammer, Warhammer 40K, and Lord of the Rings.

The art is clear and easy to follow along.

The information is easy to read and easy to follow along.

The book includes a DVD that repeats the information in the book, but with narration and someone actually performing the activity.

The use of this book is clear for individuals who are interested in the Games Workshop version of the hobby.

This isn't to say that someone new to painting miniatures won't learn.

The start of the book starts before even touching a model. This includes having the right tools and a good place to work that is both comfortable and well lit.

In terms of the models, it covers preparing the models. This includes removing product from frames, cleaning them with blades, repair work if necessary with liquid green stuff, as well as assembly with glue. Very simple, standard stuff that is good to have said regardless of who says it.

One of my favorite bits, is using a 'painting stick' with double sided tape used to hold miniatures that are then spray primed. A quick easy way to handle the priming method.

It includes a detailed breakdown of what the different pants, at the time of the writing, are.

Base Paints: High concentration of pigment allows a good base coverage. The base paint provides a foundation for future work. Not that long ago, these would have been part of the Foundation Line, a game line of paint in direct response to the excellent Privateer Press Paints.

Layer: Paint stacked atop the base paints that are meant to bring out the color of a model.

Drybrush: A new paint that I'm not aware of any other company using yet. It is thick paint that is easy to prepare for drybrushing and is easy to use.

Many of the standards for painting miniatures are here. This includes thinning you pant and using multiple thin coats to get a thicker, richer color, then just using one thick layer which may obscure details. These bits are good advice for almost any pant set from any company for any painter.

Shades: The shades are washes that darken the color they are put on. You can achieve some interesting effects by using colors that might not normally go together. One example is Reikland Fleshshade over Steel Legion Drab followed by Tallarn Sand and Karak Stone and Terminous Stone to achieve a Kahaki color.

Glazes: Different than shades, the glazes are thin color that generally have two purposes. One is to cut down 'glare' from highlights taken too far. The  second is to tint the color to whatever you're glazing it to. One of the examples is using the different glazes over silver painted chaos warriors to show their particular devotion to one of the four ruinous powers. For example, green for Nurgle or Red for Khorne.

Texture: Mud in a bottle! You slop this onto the base and it has enough material in it to present some  texture that can be washed and drybrushed for a quick nice looking base without too much work.

After discussing the different types of paint, and how to use them, the book breaks into the basics of painting, layering, drybrushing, washing, and using those techniques together. Since many of the paints are designed specifically to do one of the things, it works well.

To provide further examples, the book includes eight different groups of characters painted using the methods provided: Tyranids, Harad, Space Marines, Gondor, Orcs & Goblins, The Empire, Tomb Kings and Dark Eldar.

This is an excellent visual reference for anyone wondering how to paint one of those particular figures. For example, the Tomb Kings are given a rich coloration in gold and purple. The men on Gondor painted in this example, could be useful for Wood Elf Waywatchers.

The book closes out with a color guide taking different types of colors through the range. Perfect for sticking with an established pattern throughout an army. For example, if you want to do Space Wolves, you follow the guide for the following.

Basecoat: The Fang
Wash: Nuln Oil
Layer: Russ Grey
Layer: Fernisian Grey
Drybrush: Etherium Blue.

In some gases there are up to six steps as the final step is a glaze to mute an edge highlight.

Not covered in this volume, are the technical paints that came out after the book was done, nor the edge highlighting paints, which are based in color, on the drybrush paints, which are meant for a final highlight.

In addition to the book, the DVD covers almost everything the book does. This allows you to follow along in terms of cleaning, assembly, and painting of miniatures. The DVD clocks in at just slightly over 130 minutes.

Let me be clear. After reading the book and watching the  video, you will probably not be winning any Golden Demon awards.

You will know how to assemble miniatures.

You will know how to base coat.

You will know how to layer.

You will know how to base.

You will know what the specific Citadel Paints are and how they work: Wash, Glaze, Drybrush, Texture.

You will have an idea of how to place highlighting specific to the Games Workshop paint range and have a lot of options for how to do that.

While Games Workshop may be hated in many circles, this is a great product for someone fresh to the hobby who wants an all in one introduction.

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Thursday, April 2, 2015

Figopedia: Light & Colour - Theory and Practice

Figopedia Volume 1: Light & Color – Theory & Practice

Written by Jeremie Bonamant Teboul (JBT)
120 full color pages

One of the nice things about this internet era of things, is that you can get a taste for how something may work. For example, prior to the book launch of Figopedia, there was a Youtube video. It provided a great overview of what was going to happen on Indigogo.
The campaign was well run. The updates were on a regular basis. The stretch goals were modest and met. Part of that included some lady adventurers that would be NSFW cast in resin with very fine detail on them.

The communication after the campaign were well done. The books weren’t shipped out on time. There was some item, I’m not sure if it was stickers or something, but that held things up.

Only briefly.

Biggest problem? The way it was shipped. My book had numerous scuff marks on it and I was fortunate that the miniatures were still in the package because the package was ripped open at the top due to a tear. It was a big envelope basically as opposed to a box. Bad shipping on that. Good news the minis look okay.

The book itself? Gorgeous. People talk about food porn all the time. This is miniature porn. If you like looking at well painting miniatures, this book is right up your alley. The miniatures are identified in both scale and company. For example, there are many from Figione but there are others from companies including Games Workshop. The painting on the cover? That’s a modified Games Workshop Eldar walker.

The book is not a step by step in that the author doesn’t grab one figure, prime it, put a color on, tell you the color, shade it, tell you the color of the shade, and so on.

Rather, he provides ideas on how color works. It’s a bit technical in some areas but the biggest thing I got from me, is to push the paints further then you might normally. He does this by providing information on the different parts of light and color.

For example, how does light fall on the miniature? Is it falling from an angle? Is it all around light? Is it directly overhead? Each way that light is cast provides it’s own highlight and shadows and must be followed throughout the whole miniature as such.

Another aspect cover, is how light hits different shapes. Large flat shapes versus folded cloth for example.

In terms of idea, he hits the following: Hue, lightness and saturation.

He does this by discussing how to make colors ‘cool’ or ‘warm’ and how to harmonize them.

He does this by showing how to take the opposite color to darken a color while retaining a richer color. For example, to get a deep rich red, add green. I’ve seen the advice before but there are more examples here and it’s clearly demonstrated.

One of the nice things, is that while there are is no single walk through, he uses the same model to discuss different aspects several times so you get to see how each of the theories applies to the same figure with vastly different results. Want to see how the figure looks when it’s ‘cool’ or ‘warm’? It’s there. Want to see it when the painter has harmonized it? Done.

In this way, the making the reader think about how the figures are painted, not just the use color a, color b, color c, it is more of a workbook for the reader. It’s more of a “here’s WHY you paint it this way as opposed to just paint it with these colors.” For some people, that’s a good thing. After all, what if he used Citadel paints and all you have are Vallejo’s?

No, instead, it’s take this red, darken it with green, lighten it with yellow, pay attention to where the light is falling, how the light is falling, how much light is falling, and don’t be afraid to have extreme highlights and extreme shadows but only in those spaces where they are needed and no further.

It’s not an inexpensive book. It’s overall value may depend entirely on what you bring to the reading. But even if you just read it for the art and the ideas, you may be motivated by the miniature porn to push your own painting skills a little higher while motivated to do so. For me, it was a worthwhile purchase and I will be supporting any future books done in this manner, although with more feedback to the author to ship in a box or better padding.

Those interest in the book and it’s website can go here.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Review: Reaper Bones Zombies (5 from Kickstarter 2)

As a backer of the second Reaper Bones Kickstarter, I've been going through my pledge. Some monsters that I don't think there are enough of, are zombies.

Games Workshop, for many of their army lines, have great generic figures. Their zombies are terrible. Mantic on the other hand, has some great zombies but you might not need that many in a horde.

Thankfully Reaper is here with some zombies.

These zombies have been primer with the Army Painter Necrotic Flesh. It provides a nice solid cover. Almost too nice! It'll bleed through paint placed on it and might require multiple coats. The good news is that it goes over the Bones material with no muss and no fuss. I used a hair dryer to quickly dry it off and get painted.

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I decided for humour sake more than anything, that I was going to paint these using the Zombicide Paints. There are three sets. The paints are a little odd. They require thinning and a gentle hand when getting paint from the stopper. It's like you put pressure on and nothing, nothing, nothing, and bam, a huge blob of paint that you have to scoop back into the bottle.

Another reason I wanted to use the zombicide paints on zombies? Keep it to a limited pallette.
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The first thing I did was use a 'toxic shader' to try and force myself to view the details on the figures. The toxic shader was thinned with a little standard Liquitex acrylic thinner. I was surprised by how purple the color was.

Seeing some of the details, I made a few mental notes. In most cases, it was a layer back onto the base color and then a layer mixed with another lighter color to bring out some more details. At the end I decided why not and used the glistening blood effect. It's a neat little paint. It's semi-transparent and gets a nice effect.

I apologize for the quality of the photos. My bad is shot and I'm painting while lying down which means I don't have access to better light and well, I was never good with taking photos in the first place.

The zombies are a nice group. The shuffling gait they have is well captured. The turned in feet for example, are a nice touch. The crouching lurking vibe? Solid.

The only thing I would like to see more of, are well, wounds and perhaps trophies. The only one I saw with a wound was the young lady and that's on her neck and appears to be from a straight cut.

Overall I'd say most of these can fit into almost any campaign setting and are a solid buy for someone looking to bulk out their zombies.